Policy certainty is the key to preserving the progress that the wind industry has made and to avoiding widespread job losses.  Because the wind industry operates on a 24-month development cycle, the impact of an uncertain policy environment in 2013 is already causing an industry slowdown.  With critical decisions on project financing, turbine orders, and power purchase agreements needing to be settled by the 18 month mark, many project developers have shelved their plans to develop U.S. projects next year, triggering layoffs for developers, manufacturers, and the entire supply chain.  As wind turbine manufacturers have virtually no orders to fill for 2013 projects, they have begun layoffs, and this trend will likely accelerate in the third quarter of this year.  Navigant Consulting anticipates that without a PTC extension, 37,000 jobs will be lost.  If the wind industry’s domestic supply chain is lost now, it will take years to build it back up to its current level.

 

JOBS ARE ALREADY BEING LOST.

Citing the slowdown in business resulting from the uncertainty of PTC, the following companies have publicly commented on employee layoffs this year:

  • Wind turbine blade manufacturer LM Wind Power laid off 94 full-time employees and 140 temporary employees from its Little Rock, Arkansas plant in August.  In September, it announced further layoffs of 200 full-time manufacturing employees, 15 administrative staff, and 130 temporary workers and contractors from its Grand Forks, North Dakota plant.
  • Wind turbine manufacturer Siemens laid off 615 employees in Iowa, Kansas and Florida.
    • September 18, 2012, KAKE
  • Wind turbine blade manufacturer Molded Fiber Glass laid off 92 employees from their Aberdeen, South Dakota-based facility.  After receiving additional orders, the company was able to re-hire 15 employees. 
  • Wind project developer juwi Wind has closed its Cleveland, Ohio-based office and laid off the 14 staff members who worked there.
  • Wind turbine component supplier Walker Component Group laid off 15 employees from their Denver, Colorado-based facility.
  • Wind turbine manufacturer Clipper Windpower laid off 174 employees company-wide in August 2012.  They announced an additional 10 layoffs at their Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based manufacturing facility in November 2012. 
  • Wind turbine tower manufacturer DMI Industries will close its Tulsa, Oklahoma plant in November and lay off 167 employees from that facility.  Another DMI plant in West Fargo, North Dakota, has 217 employees and will close in October.
  • Wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa furloughed 165 of its Pennsylvania-based workers.
  • Wind measurement technology manufacturer NRG Systems laid off 18 Vermont-based employees in May, and an additional 12 in July– the first time in 30 years that they’ve had to make any layoffs.
  • Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas laid off 182 employees in January.  In August, it announced 90 further layoffs at its Pueblo, Colorado factory and 30 further layoffs at its Brighton, Colorado factory.  In October, it announced another 75 layoffs at its Brighton factory.  Vestas has announced that it will close three of its U.S. research and development facilities by the end of the second quarter of 2013, causing another 85 job losses. 
  • Wind project developer Iberdrola Renewables laid off 50 U.S. employees, about half of which were based in Oregon.
  • Wind project develober EDP Renewables North America LLC laid off 10% of their workforce.
  • Wind pattern analysis company Windlogics cut 10 of their Minnesota-based employees.

BUSINESS IS SLOWING AND FURTHER LAYOFFS ARE ANTICIPATED.

The following companies have publicly commented on potential impacts on their companies associated with the uncertainty around the PTC’s future.

  • Katana Summit LLC announced plans Tuesday to close its wind tower manufacturing plants in Columbus, Neb. and Ephrata, Wash., if a buyer for the operations can’t be found… Katana Summit currently employs 214 people at its Columbus plant, which opened in 2008, and 79 in Washington.  President and CEO Kevin Strudthoff said the plant shutdowns are expected to occur around Nov. 1 if new ownership isn’t in place.”
  • “We can’t get a project over the finish line. … Nobody is committing,” said Joe Baker, CEO, Acciona Wind Power. “If the production tax credit is renewed, they’ll call us the next day and say, ‘OK, let’s go.’”
  • Exergy Development Group has ended its efforts to build the 116-megawatt package of wind farms [in Idaho] this year… CEO James Carkulis said he decided to halt the projects after it became clear Exergy would not get them done by the end of the year, which the company had to do to obtain an up-front payment of a federal investment-tax credit that is due to expire Dec. 31.”
  • “During the second half of 2012, we are repositioning a portion of our production capacity to meet the growing demand for [other] products … the repositioning will include, among other things, the conversion of certain facilities from manufacturing wind towers to railcars.”
  • Vestas … warns it could lay off a further 1,600 at its Colorado factories, if a tax credit is not extended beyond this year.  Martha Wyrsch, president of Vestas’ sales and service operations in the United States and Canada, said extension of the federal renewable-energy Production Tax Credit, due to expire Dec. 31, is crucial to the company’s business.
  • “Golden Valley [Minnesota] – based Mortenson Construction, one of the top wind farm builders in the country, has about 1,100 employees working on projects, said Tim Maag, vice president and general manager of the company’s U.S. wind operations.  If the tax credit expires, several hundred of its presently 800 blue-collar craft jobs will vanish, Maag said.”
  • GE‘s wind sales fell 37 percent from the second quarter of 2011 to the same quarter in 2012, the company announced in its second quarter earnings report.  Deirdre Latour, a spokeswoman for GE, attributed most of the decrease in sales to the tax credit’s uncertain future.”
  • “We’re seeing the impact right now.  On Friday, we lost two employees and we have no intention to replace them.  There’s just not the demand there and we need to be able to have that tax credit to be able to create the certainty in order to continue to grow our company.”
  • “Richards said the sooner the tax credit is continued, the better.  ‘We will see orders slow down, knowing there’s uncertainty in the market,’ she said. ‘You can’t go building that structure without knowing ‘Do I have that incentive or not?’ It’s going to slow down and we’re going to feel it.’”
    • May 29, 2012, quote from Cheryl Richards, global market manager for wind energy at PPG Industries, Shelby [NC] Star
  • “President/CEO Richard Morrison of Molded Fiberglass expressed concern for the jobs of 800 people at his own firm and among the other businesses he deals with. “It’s already very late,” he explained. “We like to take orders for 2013 by the last quarter of 2011.” But the orders, he said, are not there.”
  • “Jim Schwarz, CEO of Able Manufacturing, said if the PTC expires 50-75% of Able’s wind energy business could dry up.  Last year, wind energy was $4.5 million of Able’s sales.  Though the PTC is not scheduled to expire until the end of the year, Able had no orders after August.”
  • Acciona Windpower‘s generator-assembly plant here in the heart of the corn belt [in West Branch, IA] is down to its last domestic order as the U.S. wind energy industry faces a sharp slowdown.  Demand for the school bus-size pods it assembles to house the guts of a wind turbine is drying up as a key federal tax credit nears expiration. Acciona is now banking on foreign orders to keep the plant going next year, while hoping the credit will be extended.”
  • “There’s plenty at stake,” said EDP Renewables North America CEO Gabriel Alonso. “If the PTC isn’t extended for 2013, we would not build a single wind farm on U.S. soil.”
  • “Spokesman Greg Wetstone said Friday that Terra-Gen‘s expansion of Alta Wind [in Tehachapi, CA] in 2013 ‘is very much contingent on Congress passing the PTC extension.’”
  • “We clearly have increased our focus and spending in Canada compared to the U.S. Our Ontario projects help us to continue investing in projects and communities despite the political uncertainty affecting the U.S. market.”
  • “Equipment isn’t being built, and that will make it hard for us to build anything next year because you can’t buy that stuff off the shelf.”
  • “France-based Alstom, a new player in the Texas Panhandle, operates a plant to manufacture nacelles, the part of a wind turbine where the electrical generation happens. Alstom’s facility is unable to get up to full speed with the industry waiting for action in Washington.  ‘Startup of Alstom’s Amarillo plant is ongoing, and activity there will continue to be driven by the needs of the market,’ said company spokesman Adam R. Pratt.”
  • Proinlosa Energy Corp. wind turbine manufacturing facility … has about 50 Houston employees. U.S. Sales Manager Scott Sattler said orders are declining as the expiration approaches.”
  • “Although business is thriving, the Port of Houston Authority and the Port of Galveston officials are just as concerned as wind energy production companies about what will happen if the tax credits are not extended, as some industry experts suggest.  Port officials say jobs and money are at stake: They could earn less money from dockage and wharfage fees, while stevedores – employees who load and unload cargo – could have fewer hours of work.”
  • “At the Port of Houston, wind energy shipments are just as strong, but Ricky Kunz, the port’s vice president of trade development and marketing, said it is because companies are rushing to get towers installed before the deadline. “Nolan Williamson, Shippers Stevedoring Co.’s vice president of terminal operations, said he expects the wind business to stay strong until October when shipments may begin to drop due to the proximity of the tax credit deadline.”